The Price of Gold: Day 14
Mohale’s Hoek to Maseru
It is amazing to see how far away from amenities and service delivery people live. In many of the homes there is is no running water and no electricity. If you want to find someone in this country of hills and valleys it is very easy, you ask someone who lives close by and they will shout across the valley at the top of their voice. Someone else will reply, at the top of their voice and it goes on like that until the person has been located.
Lesotho is so different to South Africa in many ways and feels very laid back in comparison. South Africa is seen as being the rich older sibling and many people feel that it is where they need to go to get well paid work. Perhaps this was part of the allure of the gold mines, it certainly seems that there was not much work in Lesotho other than farming and anyone with ambition needed to cross the border and find work.
Leseli Kompi is the 19 year old son of Maphatsoe Kompi who died in October 2013 from pulmonary TB at 63 years old. His mother died in 2012 and he is now left to look after his 15 year old sister, Naleli. They survive off the provident fund which his father left. The initial amount was R33,367, they are now left with just R6,687.
Although they have a little money to survive on and Leseli spends his time looking after the animals that his father left, he will soon need to get a paid job as a herd boy in order to pay for his sisters education.
Joseph Lebone started working in the gold mines in 1972 when he was 21 years old. He worked for 33 years until he was diagnosed with silicosis at the mine hospital. He was compensated R40,000 and only sent home when he developed TB.
He started working there because he saw others who were managing to find jobs and provide for their families. Now he has to survive off the land. He grows vegetables, maize and wheat.